{Free Best} L'être et le néantAuthor Jean-Paul Sartre – Gsagency.co

Being Nothingness Is Without Doubt One Of The Most Significant Philosophical Books Of The Th Century The Central Work By One Of The Century S Most Influential Thinkers, It Altered The Course Of Western Philosophy Its Revolutionary Approach Challenged All Previous Assumptions About The Individual S Relationship With The World Known As The Bible Of Existentialism , Its Impact On Culture Literature Was Immediate Was Felt Worldwide, From The Absurdist Drama Of Samuel Beckett To The Soul Searching Cries Of The Beat Poets Being Nothingness Is One Of Those Rare Books Whose Influence Has Affected The Mindset Of Subsequent Generations Seventy Years After Its St Publication, Its Message Remains As Potent As Ever Challenging Readers To Confront The Fundamental Dilemmas Of Human Freedom, Choice, Responsibility Action

10 thoughts on “L'être et le néant

  1. says:

    L etre et le neant, essai d ontologie phenomenologique Being and Nothingness, Jean Paul SartreBeing and Nothingness An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, is a 1943 book by the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, in which the author asserts the individual s existence as prior to the individual s essence and seeks to demonstrate that free will exists While a prisoner of war in 1940 and 1941, Sartre read Martin Heidegger s Being and Time 1927 Heidegger s work, an ontological investigation through the lens and method of Husserlian phenomenology Edmund Husserl was Heidegger s teacher , initiated Sartre s own philosophical inquiry 2010 1389 432 9789643460532 1394 856 9789644486456 20 1389

  2. says:

    One of the cold serious works I ve read, this treatise exerts a strange power that forces readers onward despite the dense subject matter and clunky English translation.The subject is man s experience of reality Here you have a rigorous scouring of the subject resulting in a proof of human freedom so thorough you ll never fool with hard determinism again Every aspect of consciousness is traced in all its implications After reading this there seems little to be said about the basis in reality of human thought The unique effect of reading the book, for me, came from exploring my own mind and thoughts for insight as I followed what Sartre said The scope of the book treats conscious thought in isolation You need a fairly good philosophical vocabulary to read it, as well as a highlighter Even then, some of the points are so abstruse you have to pause and think, often on each paragraph Joseph Catalano s A Commentary on Jean Paul Sartre s Being and Nothingness is a valuable companion Those considering reading this book may want to read Catalano alongside it As with many existential works, this study tends to ignore external influences on thought Sartre does pose the problem of the situation limit to human freedom, but without exploring it in any detail As a result, the outward, natural necessity that provides the context for human freedom receives scant attention Thence comes the sense of a human consciousness unbounded in its freedom Sartre s characterization of the human mind possessing absolute freedom and absolute responsibility takes on a metaphysical aura this, as much as anything, accounts for the book s ability to engage one s feelings The reading of this work is actually rewarding than what one might learn from it What an intriguing effect for such and academic work.

  3. says:

    IMMERSE ME IN YOUR SPLENDOUR This is the one The Stone Roses It helps to have read Heidegger s Being and Time before this volume that some describe as a companion, others as a critique it s both, actually.Heidegger writes like someone who is a reader Sartre like someone who is both a reader and a writer This is not to deny that Heidegger is a good writer Just that Sartre is a better one Sartre wrote while Heidegger s ideas were still fresh He agreed with many, disagreed with some, fine tuned others, and finished the project that Heidegger set himself, but failed to complete Naturally, Sartre accomplished something that was different from what Heidegger had intended at any stage of his career Two philosophers, at least two opinions.Sartre described his work as an essay on phenomenological ontology, its goal to set down the basis for a general theory of being It is a systematic, analytical work It has the hallmarks of the type of system that Heidegger envisaged but failed to achieve, because he segmented his project, stopped at the first phase which was enough to gain him a professorial post , started to question and doubt subsequently, revised, and went on to other interests including the reconciliation of his philosophy with National Socialism.Ontology is an extremely speculative, subjective, arbitrary and even metaphorical study.Sartre doesn t accord Heidegger any particular privileged status He is simply one philosopher trying to address issues posed by philosophy in general and Husserl in particular Both are trying to feel their way in the dark, recording their perspectives and impressions as they progress You might not agree with everything that Sartre or Heidegger, for that matter wrote At least, unlike Being and Time , you can tell from the text of Being and Nothingness itself, what ideas and arguments belong to Sartre, what he has adopted from his predecessors who are acknowledged , and what his differences and disagreements are This is an argumentative work which tries to tease out the truth, rather than one that simply proclaims its truth imperiously and ex cathedra.Ultimately, I found Sartre s work to be a honest and accountable study than Being and Time.Notwithstanding its length, it is also a engaging literary experience for a reader, once if at all you become comfortable with the terminology of phenomenology and ontology Being and Nothingness works hard to be both a philosophical and a literary experience As a result, it is a source of greater illumination.THE INSISTENCE OF THE CARTESIAN SUBJECT A Subjective Pr cis Consciousness is what negates, differentiates, separates, determines, designates It differentiates the Subject from the Object, and the Self from the Other In order to identify itself, consciousness in the form of Being for itself turns inward and negates the Being in itself Yet, Being for itself is nothing other than Being in itself It is one and the same thing Being is separated by nothingness Consciousness identifies and chooses possibilities for being Freedom is action in pursuit of possibilities Freedom is the burden or responsibility of making our own choices Freedom is the recognition and embrace of the possibilities of our own being Bad faith occurs when consciousness eschews its responsibility to itself.AT 38 Heidegger and Sartre were both 38 at the time of publication of their respective works, Being and Time and Being and Nothingness. Meredith Joy Ostrom Miriam in The Ninth Cloud THE MERE POSSIBILITY OF A RENASCENCE The Extreme Radicalisation of a Potentiality Sartre s convictions are really closer to Heidegger s than to anyone else s Indeed, the least inadequate capsule classification is to make of him the extreme radicalisation of a potentiality inherent in Heidegger s Sein und Zeit The passion with which he has expressed his convictions has given his philosophy a hard hitting tone and has tended to spill over into the most exciting literature written by any philosopher since Zarathustra Thomas Langan The Post structuralist Project It has been an unspoken goal of the post structuralist project to render Sartre history and thereby to free itself from the weight of his thinking Yet, to leave Sartre unspeakable through silence is silently to call attention to him as somehow fundamental it is to suggest his having been given a reading, and call for a rereading Steve Martinothttps www.ocf.berkeley.edu marto hMaking An Instrument for His Own Project In sharp contrast to Heidegger, then, Sartre has no interest in conferring a meaning on or otherwise deifying being at the expense of the meaning conferring subject, for he believes and not without good reason that the individual s conscious experience of the world is at the heart of the phenomenological impulse Accordingly, Heideggerians such as Hubert Dreyfus, who believe that the theory of consciousness offered in Being and Nothingness is only a misguided reformulation of Being and Time, miss the point Sartre does not aim to reformulate Being and Time any than Heidegger aimed to reformulate Husserl s phenomenology Like all philosophers, he only aims to take from his predecessors what is useful for his own project, which, in Sartre s case, revolves around the phenomenological freedom of the subject David ShermanUnderstood for the First Time In 1946 in Letter on Humanism Heidegger presented what is sometimes thought of as a devastating critique of Sartre, but only a year earlier in a note to himself he endorsed Sartre s reading of Being and Time Heidegger wrote in relation to Corbin s translation of What is Metaphysics Decisive effect on Sartre from there Being and Time understood for the first time Indeed on October 28, 1945 Heidegger wrote to Sartre, not only acknowledging that in Being and Nothingness Sartre had shown a level of understanding of Being and Time that he had not found elsewhere, but also recognising him as an independent thinker in his own right Acting completely out of character, Heidegger told Sartre that he accepted Sartre s critique of the account of Mitsein in Being and Time and he acknowledged the legitimacy of Sartre s insistence on being for others It was a remarkably conciliatory letter, even if one cannot avoid the suspicion that Heidegger was soliciting Sartre s help during what after Germany s defeat was a difficult time for him Robert BernasconiA SEA OF POSSIBILITIES A SUBJECTIVE DI VERSIFICATION OF VARIOUS SARTRESIAN MEDITATIONS Mostly in the Words of Sartre view spoiler I TELEMACHUSThe Possibility of Self Denial What are we to say is The being of man who has The possibility of Denying himself The HoleThe For itself is nothingBut the pure nihilationOf the In itself It is like a hole of beingAt the heart of Being.The For itself isThe nothingnessOf the In itself.The Existing Moon What the crescent moon lacks,In order to be a full moon,Is a fragment of moon.The Crack Nothingness Is a crack In the egg Of being.The EndThe end and the goalOf the nihilationWhich I amIs the in itself.The Vanishing Without this In itselfWhich I deny,I should vanishInto nothingness.II NESTOR Consciousness of Being Nothing is inConsciousnessWhich is notConsciousnessOf being.The Nihilation of the Past Being Consciousness continually Experiences itself As the nihilation of Its past being.The Nihilation of the Existent Aspiration isThe denialOf the existentIn favour ofThe possible.Separated by Nothingness Human reality carries Nothingness within itself As the nothing which Separates its present From all its past.Nothingness BetweenBetween the nihilatedIn itself and The projected in itself,The for itselfIs nothingness.No Escape The for itselfCannot escapeThe in itself,Because the for itselfIs nothing,And it isSeparatedFrom the in itselfBy nothing.The Cleavage Nothing is like The nothingness That is The cleavage Between Two breasts.Keeping Abreast of Time or Two The past and the present Are separated By nothingness And as unalike As two breasts.III PROTEUS Being, Possibility and Time All being strives toBecome possibilityIn the course of time.The Future The Future is not,It is possibilised.The Future isThe continualPossibilisationOf possibilities.Future Perfect Possibility To be its own possibility,To be defined by it,Is to be defined by That part of itselfWhich it is not,To be defined by An escape from itselfTowards a future possibility.The Projected Future What I project As my future being Is always nihilated And reduced To the rank Of possibility, Because the future Which I am remains Out of my reach.A Meaning Out of Reach From the moment I define myselfInsofar as I am what I am not,And am not what I am,I am thrown towards a meaningThat is out of reach.IV CALYPSO In the Mode I am the self Which I will be, In the mode of Not being it.A Certain Coincidence Each for itself is hauntedBy the presence of thatWith which it should coincideIn order to be itself.A Tale of Two Halfs Possibility is The glass half full,While nothingness isThe glass half empty.Something Possible The possible is the somethingWhich the for itself lacksIn order to be itself For Heidegger To be is to beMy own possibilities.It is a mode of beingIn which I make myself be.Being and Possibility Each being for itself Strives towards the possibility Of being what it is not,Which contra Sartre Is not nothingness,But possibility.V LOTUS EATERSConsciousness of the World What I seekIn the face of the worldIs the coincidenceWith a for itselfWhich I am and which isConsciousness of the world.The Horizon of the World It is in timeThat the for itself isIts own possibilitiesIn the mode of not being.It is in timeThat my possibilities appearOn the horizon of the worldWhich they make mine.The Present Present isOpposed toAbsent,As well asTo past.VI HADES Condemned To Be Free The For ItselfIs free.Its freedomIs to itselfIts own limit.To be freeIs to be CondemnedTo be free.I am condemned To be wholly ResponsibleFor myself.Bad Faith Consciousness Constitutes itselfIn its own fleshAs the nihilationOf a possibilityWhich another Human reality projectsAs its possibility.Instead of directingIts negation outward,It turns it toward itself.Flight and Pursuit The for itselfAttempts to escapeIts factual Existence.This flight Takes place towardAn impossible future.Thus the for itselfIs both a flight And a pursuit.VII AEOLUSThe Object The object isThat which is notMy consciousness.Objectivity I make the OtherLose himselfIn the worldWhich is mineBy the sole fact thatHe is for me the oneWho I have to not be.I make the Other beIn the midst of the world.The Mediator The Other isThe indispensable Mediator between Myself and me.Hegelian Gameplay The road ofInteriorityPasses throughThe Other.As I appearTo the Other,So I am.Since the OtherIs such asHe appearsTo me,And my beingDepends uponThe Other,The way in whichI appearDepends on The wayIn whichThe OtherAppearsTo me.The Other s Look To be looked atIs to apprehend oneselfAs the unknown objectOf unknowable appraisals.Shame I am ashamedOf myselfBefore the Other.Vanity Vanity impels meTo get hold Of the Other,So that I mayDiscover thereMy own object state,So that he may Release to meThe secret of my being.VIII LESTRYGONIANS The Fall I have fallen Into the worldIn the midstOf things.Through the worldI make knownTo myselfWhat I am.Being in the Midst of the World The ultimate projectOf Being for itselfIs being in the midst of the world.The Absolute Flow My senses areIn the midstOf a world They are in and throughThe absolute flowOf my worldToward the Other.IX SCYLLA AND CHARYBDISEngagement I live my selfnessIn its concrete projectionToward this or thatParticular end.I exist onlyAs engaged.Always Engaged The freedomOf the for itselfIs alwaysEngaged.X WANDERING ROCKSRelation The for itself isThe foundationOf all negativityAnd of all relation.The for itself is Relation.Conflict The essence Of the relationsBetween consciousnessesIs not the Mitsein It is conflict.Death To die is To lose allPossibilityOf revealing Oneself asSubject to an Other.XI SIRENSThe Flesh The flesh is thePure contingencyOf presence.The Body The body is theContingent formWhich is taken upBy the necessityOf my contingent form.The Other s Body The Other s bodyIs the pure factOf the Other s presenceIn my worldAs a being thereWhich is expressedAs a being as this.A Body Known I existFor myselfAs a bodyKnown byThe Other.I feel myselfTouched byThe OtherIn my factual Existence.It is my Being there for others,For which I am Responsible.Making Itself Body The being which desiresIs consciousnessMaking itself body.Seduction By seduction I aim At constituting myself As a fullness of being, A meaningful object, And at making myselfRecognised as such.XII CYCLOPSThe Captive Each of the loversIs the captiveOf the Other.Alienated Freedom The one who wantsTo be loved,By the mere factOf wanting someoneTo love him,Alienates his freedom.Complicity I am the AccompliceOf my ownDesire,Which has fallenWholly into ComplicityWith the body Only Body Desire is not Only the desireOf the Other s body It is the lived projectOf being swallowed upIn the body.Consciousness allows itselfTo go over to the body,Wishes to be the body,And to be only body.Ensnarement Desire is The ensnarementOf a bodyBy the world.ConsciousnessIs ensnaredIn a bodyWhich is engulfedIn the world.Incarnation In desire,I incarnateMy consciousness,I incarnate myself,In order to realiseThe incarnation Of the Other.The Caress The caress isThe ensembleOf those ritualsWhich incarnateThe Other.Double Reciprocal Incarnation The caress causesThe Other s bodyTo be born,Through pleasure,For the Other And for myself In such a wayThat my bodyIs made fleshIn order to touchThe Other s body,That is, byCaressing itself withThe Other s body,Rather than by Caressing her him.XIII NAUSICAAThe Mode of Not Being Anguish is my consciousness Of being my own future, In the mode of not being.Anguish IThe for itselfApprehendsItself in anguishAs a beingCompelled to decideThe meaning of beingWithin it andEverywhere Outside of it.The one who realises In anguish his conditionAs being thrownInto a responsibilityHas no longer eitherRemorse or regret or excuse.He is no longer Anything but a freedom.Most of the timeWe flee anguishIn bad faith.Anguish II AnguishManifestsOur freedomTo our Consciousness.Anguish is a consequenceOf taking your SelfSeriously.Nausea My knowledgeExtends my nauseaToward that whichIt is for others.For it isThe OtherWho graspsMy nausea,Precisely as fleshAnd with theNauseous characterOf all flesh.XIV OXEN OF THE SUNWork as a Mode of Alienation The worker servile or not Experiences in work hisBeing an instrument for others.Work, when not strictly destinedFor the ends of the worker himself,Is a mode of alienation.Revolution The educationAnd reflectionNecessaryTo conceiveOf a social stateIn which sufferingWould not exist.XV CIRCEAction To act is toModify the shapeOf the world.The Act To be is to act,And to cease to actIs to cease to be.The act isThe expressionOf freedom.I am an existentWho learnsHis freedomThrough his acts.The Upsurge The presentIs the upsurgeOf the act.Freedom I For the for itself,To be is toNihilateThe in itselfWhich it is.Freedom isNothing otherThan this nihilation.Freedom s Escape Freedom is Not freeNot to existOr not to be free.FreedomCannot escape Its existence.XVI EUMAEUSThe Choice of an End Freedom is the choiceOf an endIn terms of the past.Conversely,The past is what it is,Only in relation to The end chosen The Illumination of the End The endIlluminatesWhat is.What isTakes on its meaningOnly when it is surpassedToward the future.The Choice We are fullyConsciousOf the choiceWhich we are.XVII ITHACAFree To Change Freedom impliesThe existenceOf an environmentTo be changed.To be free isTo be free to change.Free To Do To be freeIs to be free to do,To be free in the world.Freedom IIThe for itselfBy its upsurgeCauses the in itselfTo come into the world.It is our freedomWhich is responsibleFor the fact thatThere are thingsAnd that we areSeparated from them.XVIII PENELOPEDesire IDesire is a Lack of being.Desire IIHuman realityIs the desireOf being in itself.Desire to BeIt is not enoughThat I be I must desireTo be.My ThoughtI desire To apprehendMy thoughtAs a thing, And the thingAs my thought.PossessionTo be in the worldIs to form the projectOf possessingThe world What I HaveI amWhatI have.The KnownTo knowIs to have.The knownIs transformedInto me.The Lover s DreamThe lover s dreamIs to identifyThe beloved objectWith himselfAnd still preserveIts individuality Let the OtherBecome meWithout ceasingTo be the Other.To Be GodMan is the beingWhose projectIs to be God.To be manMeans to reachToward being God.Man is the desire To be God.Man makes himself manIn order to be God hide spoiler

  4. says:

    Here is this review in podcast form Slime is the agony of water. I first heard of this book from my dad I had to read this in college, he told me We looked at every type of being Being in myself, being for myself, being of myself, being across myself, being by myself I went crazy trying to read that thing Ever since that memorable description, this book has held a special allure for me It has everything to attract a self styled intellectual a reputation for difficulty, a hefty bulk, a pompous title, and the imprimatur of a famous name Clearly I had to read it.Jean Paul Sartre was the defining intellectual of his time, at least on the European continent He did everything writing novels and plays, founding and editing a journal, engaging in political activism, and pioneering a philosophical school existentialism This book is the defining monument of that school An eight hundred page treatise on ontology which, somehow, became widely read or at least widely talked about Nearly eighty years later, we are still talking about this book In 2016 Sarah Bakewell released a best selling book about Sartre s movement and a new translation of Being and Nothingness will be released next year Interest in existentialism has not abated.Yet what is existentialism And how has it weathered the passing years This is what I set out to determine, and this review will show whether my attempt bore fruit.One should begin by examining the subtitle of this book A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology Already we have a contradiction Phenomenology is a philosophical school founded by Edmund Husserl, which attempted to direct philosophers attention back to the things themselves that is, to their own experience of the world One of Husserl s most insistent commandments was that the philosopher should bracket, or set aside, the old Cartesian question of the reality of these experiences is the world truly as I perceive it rather, the philosopher should simply examine the qualities of the experience itself Thus, Sartre s promise of a phenomenological ontology ontology being the investigation of the fundamental nature of reality is a flagrant violation of Husserl s principles.Still, it does have a lot to tell us about Sartre s method This book is an attempt to deduce the fundamental categories of being from everyday experience And this attempt leads Sartre to the two most basic categories of all being and nothingness Being is all around us it is manifest in every object we experience Sartre defines existing objects as those which are self identical that is, objects which simply are what they are and he dubs this type of being the in itself Humans, by contrast, cannot be so defined they are constantly shifting, projecting themselves into an uncertain future Rather than simply existing, they observe their own existence Sartre calls this type of human existence the for itself Already we see the old Cartesian dualism reappearing in these categories Are we not confronted, once again, with the paradoxes of matter and mind Not exactly For Sartre does not consider the in itself and the for itself to be two different types of substances In fact, the for itself has no existence at all it is a nothingness To use Sartre s expressions, human consciousness can be compared to little pools of non being that we encounter in the heart of being, or elsewhere he says that the for itself is like a hole in being at the heart of Being The for itself a consciousness is a particular privation of a specific in itself a human body , which functions as a nihilation that makes the world appear for there would not be a world as we know it without perception, and perception is, for Sartre, a type of nihilation.Putting aside all of the difficulties with this view, we can examine the consequences which Sartre draws from these two sorts of being If the for itself is a nothingness, then it is forever removed from the world around it That is, it cannot be determined, either by its past or by its environment In short, it is free inescapably free Human behavior can thus never be adequately explained or even excused, since all explanations or excuses presuppose that humans are not fundamentally self determining But of course we explain and excuse all the time We point to economic class, occupation, culture, gender, race, sexuality, upbringing, genetic background, mood to a thousand different factors in order to understand why people act the way they do.This attempt to treat humans as things rather than free beings Sartre calls bad faith This constitutes the fundamental sin of existentialism He gives the example of a waiter who so embraces his role as a waiter that his motions become calculated and mechanical the waiter tries to embody himself in his role to the extent that he gives up his individual freedom and becomes a kind of automaton whose every movement is predictable But of course life is full of examples of bad faith I excuse my mistake by saying I hadn t had my coffee yet my friend cheats on his girlfriend, but it was because his father cheated on his mother and so on This is the basic situation of the for itself Yet there is another type of being which Sartre later introduces us to the for others Sartre introduces this category with a characteristically vivid example Imagine a peeping Tom is looking through a keyhole into a room His attention is completely fixed on what he sees Then, suddenly, he hears footsteps coming down the hall and he immediately becomes aware of himself as a body, as a thing Sartre considers experiences like this to prove that we cannot doubt the existence of others, since being perceived by others totally changes how we experience ourselves.This allows Sartre to launch into an analysis of human interaction, and particularly into love and sexuality This analysis bears the obvious influence of Hegel s famous Master Slave dialectic, and it centers on the same sorts of paradoxes the contradictory urges to subjugate and be subjugated, to be embodied and desired, to be free and to be freely chosen, and so on However, Sartre s best writing in this vein is not to be found here, but in his great play No Exit, where each character exhibits a particular type of bad faith All three of the characters wish to be looked at in a particular way, yet each of them is stuck with others whose own particular sort of bad faith renders them unable to look in the right way Sartre concludes from all this that our most fervent desire, and the reason we so often slip into bad faith, is that we wish to be an impossible combination of the in itself and the for itself We want to be the foundation of our own being, a perfect self identical creature, and yet absolutely free We want to become gods But, for Sartre, this is self contradictory the in itself and the for itself can never coexist Thus, the idea of God arises as a sort of wish fulfillment but God is impossible by definition As a result, human life is a useless passion a relentless striving to be something which cannot exist.All this may be clearer if we avoid Sartre s terminology and, instead, compare his philosophy to that of Buddhism at least, the type of Western Buddhism I m acquainted with The mind is constantly searching for a sense of permanent identity Though the mind is, by nature, groundless, we are uncomfortable with this we want put ground under our feet So we seek to identify ourselves with our jobs, our families, our marriages, our hobbies, our success, our money with any external good that lets us forget that our consciousness is constantly shifting and flowing, and that our identities can never be absolutely determined So far, Buddhism and Sartrean existentialism have similar diagnoses of our problems But Buddhism prescribes detachment, while Sartre prescribes the embrace of absolute freedom and the adoption of complete responsibility of our actions.No summary of the book would be complete without Sartre s critique of Freud Sartre was clearly intrigued by Freud s theories and wanted to use them in some way However, Freud s unconscious motivations and superconscious censorship is clearly incompatible with Sartre s philosophy of freedom In particular, Sartre found it self contradictory to say that there could be a part of the mind which wants without us knowing it, or a part that is able to hide information from our awareness For Sartre, all consciousness is self consciousness, and it therefore does not make sense to want or know something unconsciously In place of Freud s psychoanalysis, then, Sartre proposes an existential psychoanalysis For Sartre, every person is defined by a sort of fundamental choice that determines their stance towards the world though, strangely, it seems that most people are not aware of having made this choice It is the task of the existential psychoanalyst is to uncover this fundamental choice by a close examination of everyday actions Indeed, Sartre believes that everything from one s preference for onions to one s aversion to cold water is a consequence of this fundamental choice Sartre even goes so far as to insist that some things, by virtue of being so clearly suggestive of metaphor, have a universal meaning for the for itself As an example of this, he gives slime viscous liquid which Sartre thinks inspires a universal horror of the weight of existence.This fairly well rounds out a summary of the book So what are we to make of this The comparison with Heidegger is unavoidable Sartre himself seems to have encouraged the comparison by giving his metaphysical tome a title redolent of the German professor s magnum opus The influence is clear Sartre wrote Being and Nothingness after reading Being and Time during his brief imprisonment in a prisoner of war camp and Heidegger is referenced throughout the book Nevertheless, I think it would be inaccurate to describe Sartre as a follower of Heidegger, or his philosophy merely as an interpretation of Heidegger s Indeed, I think that the superficial similarities between the two thinkers stylistic obscurity, disregard of religion and ethics, a focus on human experience, a concern with being mask far important differences.Heidegger s project, insofar as I understand it, is radically anti Cartesian He sought to replace the thinking and observing ego with the Dasein, a being thrown into the world, a being fundamentally ensconced in a community and surrounded by tools ready to hand For Heidegger, the Cartesian perspective of withdrawing from the world and deliberately reflecting and reasoning is derivative of, and inferior to, this far fundamental relationship to being Sartre could not be further from this Sartre s perspective, to the contrary, is insistently Cartesian and subjectivist it is the philosophy of a single mind urgently investigating its experience Further, the concept of freedom plays almost no role in Heidegger s philosophy indeed, I believe he would criticize the very idea of free choice as enmeshed in the Cartesian framework he hoped to destroy.In method, then, Sartre is far closer to Husserl another professed Cartesian than to Heidegger However, as we observed above, Sartre breaks Husserl s most fundamental tenet by using subjective experiences to investigate being and this was done clearly under the influence of Heidegger These two, along with Freud, and Hegel, constitute the major intellectual influences on Sartre.It should be no surprise, then, that Sartre s style often verges on the obscure Many passages in this book are comparable in ugliness and density to those German masters of opacity Freud excluded Heidegger is the most obvious influence here for Sartre, like Heidegger, enjoys using clunky hyphenated terms and repurposing quotidian words in order to give them a special meaning There is an important difference, however When I did decipher Sartre s difficult passages, I usually found that the inky murkiness was rather unnecessary.Believe me when I say that I am no lover of Heidegger s writing Nevertheless, I think Heidegger s tortured locutions are justifiable than Sartre s, for Heidegger was attempting to express something that is truly counter intuitive, at least in the Western philosophical tradition whereas Sartre s philosophy, whatever novelties it possesses, is far clearly in the mainline of Cartesian thinking As a result, Sartre s adventures in jargon come across as mere displays of pomp a bejewelled robe he dons in order to appear weighty and, occasionally, as mere abuses of language, concealing simple points in false paradoxes.This is a shame, for when Sartre wished he could be quite a powerful writer And, indeed, the best sections of this book are when Sartre switches from his psuedo Heideggerian tone to that of the French novelist The most memorable passages in this book are Sartre s illustrations of his theories the aforementioned waiter, or the Peeping Tom, or the passage on skiing Whatever merit Sartre had as a philosopher, he was undoubtedly a genius in capturing the intricacies of subjective experience the turns of thought and twinges of emotion that rush through the mind in everyday situations But what are we to make of his system To my mind, the most immediately objectionable aspect is his idea of nothingness Nothing is just that nothing a complete lack of qualities, attributes, or activity of any kind Indeed, if a nothingness can be defined at all, it must be via elimination by excluding every existing thing It seems incoherent, then, to say that the human mind is a nothingness, and is therefore condemned to be free Consciousness has many definite qualities and, besides that, is constantly active and in Sartre s opinion at least able to choose itself and change the world How can a nothingness do that And this is putting to the side the striking question of how the human brain can produce a complete absence of being Maybe I am taking Sartre s point too literally but it is fair to say that he provides no account of how this nothingness came into being.Once this idea of nothingness is called into question, the rest of Sartre s conclusions are on extremely shaky ground Sartre s idea of freedom is especially suspect If human consciousness is not separated from the world and from its past by a nothingness, then Sartre s grand pronouncements of total freedom and total responsibility become dubious To me it seems unlikely to the highest degree that, of all the known objects in the universe, including all of the animals some of which are closely related to us , humans are the only things that are exempt from the chain of causality that binds everything together.Besides finding it implausible, I also cannot help finding Sartre s idea of total freedom and responsibility to be morally dubious He himself, so far as I know, never managed to make his system compatible with a system of ethics In any case, an emphasis on total responsibility can easily lead to a punitive mentality According to Sartre, everyone deserves their fate.Admittedly I do think his conception of bad faith is useful Whether or not we are metaphysically free, we often have power over a situation than we admit Denying our responsibility can lead to inauthenticity and immorality And Sartre s embrace of freedom can be a healthy antidote to an apathetic despair Still, I do not think an elaborate ontological system is necessary in order to make this point.Reading Sartre nowadays, I admit that it is difficult to take his conclusions seriously For one, the next generation of French intellectuals set to work demonstrating that our freedom is constrained by society Bourdeiu , psychology Lacan , language Derrida , and history Foucault , among other factors Of course, these intellectual projects were not necessarily any solid than Sartre s More importantly, Sartre s system seems to be so completely bound up in both his times and his own psychology two things which he denied could determine human behavior that it ironically belies his conclusions As an example of the latter influence, Sartre s revulsion and even horror of sex is apparent throughout the book, especially in the strange section on slime In the end I was somewhat disappointed by this work And I think my disappointment is ultimately a consequence of Sartre s method phenomenological ontology It is simply incorrect to believe that we can closely interrogate our own experiences to determine the fundamental categories of being Admittedly, Sartre is not entirely averse to making logical argument but too many of his conclusions rest on the shaky ground of these narrations of subjective experience Sartre is, indeed, a brilliant observer of this experience, and his descriptions are worth reading for their psychological insight alone Nevertheless, as a system of ontology, I do not think it can stand on its own two feet.

  5. says:

    A few years ago I read about half of Being and Nothingness finally Back in school days I thought I was cutting my philosophical teeth on Sartre and the others known as existentialists I m quite certain I was making most of it up It was time to play catch up and read Sartre s work which I believed to have already assimilated It evolves that I had moved quite a distance beyond Sartre s existentialism But I did not finish my reading for external reasons and it remains on my shelf for that eventual return.But mostly I m posting this note in order to remove a chip from my shoulder My claim here is that Sartre is the only existentialist and his existentialism is merely a portion of his work and that it is the least important of his work What I mean is that Sartre was a phenomenologist His contribution to twentieth century philosophy was not the development of the philosophy of existentialism but rather his continuance of and contributions to the phenomenological researches begun by Husserl, carried further by Heidegger, contributions by Merleau Ponty, Gadamer, Ricoeur, ETC Sartre is perhaps the lesser philosopher But as intellectual he was indubitably a giant on the French landscape But, see, my claim is that he was intellectual than philosopher And his existentialism had to do with his status as intellectual than as philosopher don t hold too tight to that distinction.But, let it be said, Sartre is perhaps the noblest figure of the twentieth century in regard to the question of atheism in so far as he was the only thinker to that time who fully realized the consequences brought on by the death disappearance of a transcendental guarantee frequently known as God existentialism was perhaps nothing than a response to this question.Let it be further said, that I don t have too much to say about the literary grouping known as existentialist, for writing such Sartre was also rather well known, along with de Beauvoir, Sarraute, and someone named Camus I quit reading these things about the time I began to understand philosophy.So then as to Sartre being the only existentialist Here s what I think happened, and which has caused than two centuries of the history of philosophy to be misunderstood by the popular mind A popularizer of philosophy, or a few, but mostly Walter Kaufman, read Sartre His reading of Sartre allowed him to see similar themes and issues and orientations in philosophers from earlier eras but without having read Sartre he would not have seen these things in other thinkers This is a case similar to Kafka s writing causing us to retrospectively find kafka esque elements in writers who preceded Kafka, although we had never seen those things before or taken them as kafka esque and we find a whole series of kafka ism preceding the thing itself With a popular book or two overnight we suddenly had an entire history of existentialist thinkers Heidegger became one, so did Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, even back to Shakespeare and Pascal Reading Sartre certainly causes us to read these thinkers in a new light, but to assimilate them to something like existentialism is simply uninformative at best, misleading at worst Depend upon it anyone calling Heidegger an existentialist does not know the first thing they are learning patience about twentieth century philosophy Anyone who believes that Kierkegaard or Nietzsche were existentialists and they absolutely were not and never could be postmodernists they were Hegelians, as is Sartre in his better moments This is really the only thing I want to say Sartre is the only existentialist Existentialism is and never was a very important part of twentieth century philosophy What was important and still is, is phenomenology Forget the existentialist reading of the history of philosophy It causes confusion than understanding.

  6. says:

    I ve taken time on ideologically heavy books before, spending sometimes an hour on a single page to make sure I really understood, but I took 5 months on this 800 page beaut I read Being And Nothingness in conjunction with an incredibly enlightening and comprehensible book of course notes by Paul Vincent Spade from Indiana University on the subject of Sartre and BN See What they say about BN is true It was VERY difficult Sartre uses ideas and language that have long been used and specialized by many other philosophers in history philosophers who Sartre often just assumes his readers are read up on and if these obscure allusions and nomenclature weren t a big enough hurdle, Sartre also speaks with neologisms and turned on head phrases to introduce original ideas that he was trying to break out of conventional modes of understanding Someone recently asked me about what I was reading, and after I told them, they took out a piece of paper to write it down, and asked me if I thought the library carries it I warned them not to even look in its direction until they read a few smaller works by Sartre that convinced them they can t NOT read it It s a monumental task.So, why did I read it, assuming I m not a total a hole and wanted just to brag that I read it Well, I wanted to read this book because I had started to read and by Sartre that I liked works such as Existentialism Is a Humanism, 2 plays No Exit and The Flies, and excerpts from BN in Existentialism edited by Robert Solomon I was immediately attracted to how Sartre places a large emphasis on freedom and responsibility no regrets and no excuses and seems to recognize much unrealized potential in people I know many consider him to be an intellectual tour de force, and I agree, but I find his bravery to be most inspiring He starts from the beginning, poring over the nature of being ontology and thought, and attempts to set forth a new theory of consciousness and reality that seriously challenges in imagination and utility the best systems I have ever heard of and he may have come as close as anyone yet to understanding the nape of the infinitely regressive cogito More to the point, after reading it, I feel I better understand my world to a degree that I feel much optimistic, appreciative of my life with its good or bad, and better able to see that I am capable to meet its challenges, identify opportunities, and make progress There were many moments in the book in which I truly felt I was understanding for the first time what s going on In life In general Imagine that That s my honest to God reaction We I often attempt to forfeit our understanding of the world and our responsibility in it to a religious resignation, or we distract ourselves with busy ness, blithe indifference, or destructive rage but a better framework for understanding the world and myself in it not to be confused with a complete, or perfect understanding is often uplifting and advantageous Some may say Sartre s philosophy is superfluous and ineffective I ll be the judge of that for my own life anyway, and I say that Sartre s views have positively impacted my life.Let it be noted at the outset that the real Sartre, or who I understand to be the authentic Sartre as I have come to know him through reading some of his writings, cannot be tainted by the grossly exaggerated and largely misunderstood appellation and what has become a hackneyed epithet towards postmodern thinkers nihilism I used to think nothingness in Sartre s philosophy, and especially in the title of this book, was a reflection on a sort of metaphysical dead space , crushing meaninglessness, the impossibility of certainty, and a kind of moral about how the world, our hopes, and our dreams all come to naught Complete misunderstanding The opposite seems to be true actually Nothingness and non being exist only on the surface of being, as Sartre pointed out, Being secretes nothingness In other words, what is not can only be supported and defined by what IS so the emphasis and foundation of nothingness is something ness Throughout the book one must also keep in mind, and Sartre insists on this again and again, that the author is not setting forth a theory of why being is or how it came to be, which Sartre reserves the term metaphysics for but rather he is offering an explanation of what is and how it appears to work what he delineates as ontology I m not sure he is entirely successful in teasing out the differences between the two terms, and there appears to be quite a bit of overlap However, this doesn t bother me a bit, because we re all out in deeper water here, and the ultimate test for an idea is not how cleanly it squeezes into a dictionary definition, but how helpful it is in thought experiments and, of course, real living.He starts the book by establishing a simple duality of the finite and the infinite, which he argues offers illumination than the antiquated dualities of matter and idea, flesh and spirit This finite and infinite duality slowly morphs into a mind and world sort of pairing, and he eventually dubs them Being In Itself, and Being For Itself These terms are throwbacks to other philosophers, viz Heideggar and Kant, but of course Sartre is doing something new here which takes quite a bit of back story and poetic intuition to keep up with.Freedom is the crux of Sartre s philosophy It is not something we have, rather it is our nature We are able to secrete a nothingness , or separate ourselves from the tidal flow of the world or reality in such a way that our isolation protects us from determinism in the material world Our separateness, our ability to look from a distance onto the world, is our ability to keep our shoestrings out of its gears We reflect on it, and our objectified self in it, without being ground up in it In this sense, we are free from the world And we are this freedom, we are this separation Freedom is not a thing or quality in the world, it is the transphenomenal being of the For Itself human beings.The beauty of this and the anguish, as I will mention momentarily is that I the I transcending the objectified self choose without being coerced or programmed My choices are beyond any known source This may not be appealing for some, but what this ultimately means for Sartre, is that I can live knowing that nobody is making me do anything My life is my choice Choosing oneself is a HUGE theme in BN, and this means that we, at the core of who we are, want to be who we are, or we would not be who we are Sartre builds the case that the For Itself is essentially the universe become conscious of itself though he never says it in those words , and now nothing determines it but itself Now, that does not mean that we chose to be that is our facticity , the only thing we haven t chosen but now that we are, we choose to be every second we live.Now, this power of freedom lies deep, and all this talk of ownership and responsibility for the best and worst in life, as many will chafe at hearing, lends to our feelings of anxiety anguish because it scares us that some part of us is this much in control, and we are, as Sartre puts it, afraid of our own spontaneity From the translator, Barnes, in his introduction, We feel vertigo or anguish before our recognition that nothing in our own acts or discernible personality ensures our following of any of our usual patterns of conduct There is nothing to prevent consciousness from making a wholly new choice of its way of being Sartre s famous expression, we are condemned to be free has a certain ring of despair All the barriers, all the guard rails collapse I do not have, nor can I have, recourse to any value against the fact that it is I who sustains values in being Nothing can ensure protect me against myself It s not as if the For Itself is sabotaging itself, but the point here is that one s life is ultimately lived beyond the ability to pinpoint concrete, objectified motives, which could only succeed the creating subject Sartre soon gets to the meaning of our relationship in the world with other people To begin with, the Other exists Or rather, we act as though he does In life, we encounter the other we do not constitute him mentally Something in us accepts the Other s existence, not only as an external, objective reality but we encounter him with an internal, subjective necessity for his existence We only doubt his existence to the same extent as we may doubt our own existence, which we can t really seriously Psychologists have shown for quite some time that self awareness develops in the presence of others as one learns to distinguish one s self from other selves, and Sartre would go a step further in adducing that the cogito of the Other s existence is merged with my cogito and therefore the Other penetrates me to the heart I can not doubt him without doubting myself since as Hegel put it, self consciousness is real only in so far as it recognizes its echo and its reflection in another Ultimately our self awareness cannot be dissociated from our awareness of others, and this is what Sartre elsewhere most notably in Existentialism Is A Humanism expands in his idea of intersubjectivity and I m actually surprised I didn t meet up with this term in this book, as it would have been helpful One of the most important contributions of Sartre s philosophy is his proclamation that we choose our lives Every moment we live is a chosen moment To live is to realize oneself in situation, inseparable from a physical social environment that is as real and necessary as our original inheritance of our own bodies To live this situation is to choose myself through it and to choose it through my choice of myself It is ours, and no one else s No one but us can be blamed We may want to change things in our lives, but everything that is in our life is material our situation or facticity which may be used by us to create something better We are the architects, and to work with what has been given to us is to, in some sense, accept what has been given to us, which is to accept our self that has been revealed through this situation Now, if I may be so bold so as to rephrase another major premise of what I think Sartre is getting at in his writings, it s this we all live in story At no point are we out of story There is always a beginning and an ending which posts are constantly being adjusted by ourselves , obstacles in between, joy of progress, and awareness even if it is indirect awareness, or, what Sartre terms non positional awareness that all this is happening It s not possible to live outside of story Sartre s projects , or what you and I call stories, determine the meaning of everything we do and say and think, and if we suppose we are able to think or live outside of story, we are simply looking for a way into the next chapter Sartre thinks that being honest with ourselves about our projects and our original project as he calls the primary thrust of manifesting our self in the universe can help us to better adjust to different settings, or situations Further, we will know how to respond when someone else attempts to foist their stories or religion on us as if we have no right to be creators of our own story for though we are caught up in story together intersubjectivity , we can t coerce each other s stories to conform to our own without objectifying the Other.Oddly enough, though to some it may seem that Sartre is attempting to divest the world of meaning and magic, the opposite is actually true He is helping us see that meaning is not so far removed from us that we must wait with saintly patience to one day see the veneer of this world peeled back to reveal the truest truth the real meaning of the universe This is the essential meaning of his duality of finite infinite everything we see is a REAL manifestation of the infinite As a matter of fact, all we do, or say, or see IS the infinite, at least in part Meaning is HERE, everywhere And the universe is not one big, impersonal machine that plows blindly ahead without rhyme or reason He blows mechanamorphism an attempt to explain the meaning of the universe in purely mechanistic terms out of the water The world is human he states, and nothing is so completely inhuman so as not to be penetrated through and through with our meanings and personality Measurement can t even begin in science without human scale and location The real is realization by a person The real is here Not a bad place to start.Well, I loved it all I loved my ideological gleanings, as well as the challenge of trying to break my eye open with complex logic and innovative thought and language I m actually interested in reading from Sartre, if that says anything I think he cares about others, I think his ideas are courageous, and I think he helped to topple pedantic and petrified academic philosophy that looked down loftily from the height of detached, anemic ideals onto the world of living, bleeding, thinking folk every bit as real and valid as the pale faced intelligentsia Sartre affirmed that each of our stories are existential centers of the universe, and we affect each other no matter how seemingly insignificant one feels themselves to be I hope I never forget what I read I truly think Sartre s ideas are a contribution and advancement to philosophy, and help to iron out some of the wrinkles in the way we think about ourselves and the world I have a notebook full of 11 pages of quotations and notes from BN, Barnes introduction to BN, and Spade s course notes available for anyone who may be interested in receiving a copy of them Chew before swallowing This is an abbreviated version of my review of Being And Nothingness For the complete review, check to see if you inadvertently skipped your meds, get caught up, then visit

  7. says:

    dear reader,character limit REVIEW where do you even begin first of all the common subtitle a phenomenological essay on ontology is incorrectly translated from the french, and should read an essay on phenomenological ontology undoubtedly one of the most significant books of the 20th century, and of modern history itself.significant ideas 1 being in itself matter, existence, the world, the chair, the table, the tree undifferentiated in itself, without essence, naked, stark, overwhelming, forcing itself into every crevice without consciousness.2 being for itself conscious human existence gives essence to the world, to being in itself also without essence, but allowed to define its own essense lots wants to be god, can t.3 bad faith a lack of authenticity, the most central, perhaps only, existential moral being what one is not famous example the waiter playing at being a waiter too friendly, too quick, too eager all traits he would not have were he to truly be himself for sartre, action is the only measure of value or worth, and so only opinions or feelings that are acted upon are valid so if one thinks, well, i was going to fight for my fellow man s rights, but i didn t have the money and still holds themself in high regard for at least having a good intent, they are acting in bad faith no exit is all about this, esp garcin he holds himself to be a hero, even though his heroic intentions were thwarted and he was executed he and common morality think that since he had the right intentions, he is still heroic, yet sartre says that he instead is acting in bad faith and is actually a coward yeah bad faith is really central for sartre, and is a very noble standard of living one does not make a moral choice in one s head, but with one s actions.4 the other fascinating concept, largely if not entirely borrowed from husserl see logische Uuntersuchunge and die krisis der europaischen wissenschaften subjectivity is central to sartrean existentialism and almost all other forms it is our experience of the world i am the subject, all else is object to me yet there are other consciousnesses, who are also subjects, and to them, gasp , i am the object the look of the other attempts to objectify my and to the other, does , while the look of the subject attempts to objectify the other this creates, in a word, tension this is another great example of how what begins as a phenomenological discover bleeds into already obvious conclusions elsewhere psychology, sociology, romance, even theology wanting to be ultimate subject we try to import others into our subjective value system, and are terrified well, 99.9% of people are just in denial bad faith that others are importing us into their subjective value system.yep that s it i guess sartre went on to write the critique of dialectical reason, which reconciles very poorly, actually, it fails the ontological system developed here with marxism. importantly, sartre, as promised at the end of being and nothingness, went on to attempt to develop an ethical system, or at least explore the ethical implications of the system developed here the result of this is perhaps one of the most underrated works of philosophy two notebooks in which he tries to work out a system of ethics he never finished it s been argued, for obvious reasons, that an ethics of his existentialism is impossible and these notebooks weren t published until after his death.VERDICT you re reading a review of being and nothingness seriously.

  8. says:

    Update Jan 2015 I am beginning 2015 by rereading one of my all time favorite books for the 15th time, this time in the original language It is about time When I say read it in the original language it is like a first or third grader sort of doping out a newspaper article that is too advanced for him I know some of the words I know the English translation so well that I have a good Idea of what is passing before my eyes But it isn t really reading in the usual sense.I am studying French for the second time The first time was a disaster I don t know what to say Right now I am making progress I thought it would be good to read a couple of pages per day as a form of immersion as part of the process And in the end, the primary reason I am studying French is because I want to be able to read the book in its original language.I have been through this before It is about like 30 years ago when I reread the book all of those times in English Sometimes it really was just the words passing over my eyes But I would understand a little and then a little until I came to be able to read it like any other book So, I am optimistic My goal is to have gotten through the French course by the end of the first week in September My expectation is that I will pick up and as I learn about the language and maybe have the reading comprehension of a 4th or 5th grader by the end of the calendar year I picked up this book in the summer of 1985 Over the next three years I read and reread it seven times Once I realized it was going to be a multiple reading event I started varying my approach with each pass by dividing the book up into chunks and reading them in different orders During my sixth run through I did it backwards I started with the last page of the book and read each page until I got to the title page After that, I really had the content down and during the seventh I was able to comprehend everything like I would any other book during the first read through.Why would a 21 to 24 year old be motivated to do such a thing Because it intrigued me During each reread I picked up a little I liked what I saw, and during each pass I held of the over all picture in my mind What he wrote was and is important to me Because in the end, I believe Sartre was right often than not.He characterized us with the phrase Man is the being who is what he is not and is not what he is I think the way he worked that out in theme after theme explains a lot about what humans are, our behavior, and the reason we do the things we do The last major section is easy to read It outlines a new psychology based upon his phenomenological existentialism I have always wished I could find such a thing.In the decades since, I have returned to the book when my inner compulsion reaches a tipping point I believe the last time was within the last two or three years It will probably always be my number one favorite book.

  9. says:

    Well, really, Being and Nothingness is a literary tract disguised as philosophy The many metaphors he uses to illustrate his points are not philosophical in nature, but imagistic and suggestive There is a certain wholeness to the book, but it reminds me of Ulysses than Heidegger The one real philosophical idea is that of Bad Faith, which is just his super super ego working overtime Although an important landmark for 20th century literature, it is an unpleasant book to read, and the pain is not worth the insular, faux insights He tries to create a philosophical no exit, but it really is of an imagistic cul de sac.

  10. says:

    You have to deal with existentialism at some point and this book essentially gives you one of the best starts on the subject Some people think that you ll feel like killing yourself after reading Sartre but honestly, this book had the opposite effect on me I took it as if Sartre was telling me that human life still has value even if there s no point in having a life Read it and you ll see what I mean It takes a while to plow through it but it s worth the wait Even before fully reading it, you ll be blabbing about the transcendence of consciousness to all your friends.